Raymond Felton Quietly Stepping Up for New York Knicks During Win Streak

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIApril 9, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on December 13, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Knicks defeated the Lakers 116-107.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

If you've watched the New York Knicks at all this season, you'll know that point guard Raymond Felton is an essential part of the operation.

His ability to penetrate allows for the team to play from the inside out, and his versatility in being effective off the ball has helped spread the floor.

On top of that, Felton also looks after the basketball, which has helped his team give away the fewest turnovers in the NBA.

Put simply, Felton's skill set is a perfect match for what the Knicks need at the 1 spot, and without him they fail to live up to their potential.

This was no more evident than when Felton started struggling with injuries midseason. In the 12 games that Felton had to miss, the Knicks went 6-6, well below their season winning percentage of .658.

Felton's injured hand continued to hold him back when he played, going through a 30-game stretch where he shot below 40 percent.

With the Knicks streaking, however, Felton is back being the point guard they need him to be, which bodes well for their chances in the postseason.

We've heard about J.R. Smith's new approach to the game, and Carmelo Anthony's dominant scoring during this streak, but Felton's return to form has gone under the radar.

The scoring numbers aren't flashy—he's only putting up 12.2 points per game during the streak—but that's OK with Melo and J.R. having so much success.

What's important is that Felton has raised his efficiency, shooting 51 percent from the field and 38 percent from downtown.

On the surface, the 4.4 assists he's dishing out is worrying, but with Pablo Prigioni joining him in the backcourt, he isn't always running the offense. In fact, more often than not, he's playing off the ball, where his improved shooting form has really helped out.

Defensively, Felton has also stepped up. Outside of a 37-point game for Russell Westbrook on Sunday, he hasn't been giving up much on the defensive end.

Typcially this season, Felton has been one of the main culprits on a weak perimeter defense, but being able to swap match-ups with Prigioni, and occasionally Iman Shumpert, has really helped.

Felton is also winning the turnover battle. He's giving away the ball only 1.5 times a game—a fantastic number for a point guard playing 35 minutes a night—and has averaged 1.8 steals in these 12 wins.

At the end of the day, Felton doesn't need to be a big scorer for the Knicks. He needs to shoot a high percentage, keep possession of the basketball and play solid defense, and that's exactly what he's done.

This is the perfect time for Felton to get back on track, and if he can keep it up during the playoffs he'll put the rest of the team in a position to succeed.